Honey, I Shrunk the Plastic!

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As I planned our booth for the quilt show, I thought it would be nice to have name tags for each of us to wear when we were working. Sure, I could’ve purchased the adhesive ones or printed out something pretty to slide in a little plastic sleeve, but if a project can be done with the Cameo you can bet I’m going to give it a try :).

Silhouette America sells a variety of specialty media items including printable foil, duct tape sheets, sticker paper, tattoo paper, etc. For the name tags, I wanted to experiment with Shrink Plastic Sheets. These sheets come in both white and clear and I chose to use white for my project.

When using shrink plastic, one thing you have to remember is that it…uh…shrinks (duh!). So if you have a specific finished size in mind, you first need to calculate how much shrinkage will actually take place. An easy way to do this is to make a ruler out of the shrink plastic which can then be used as a guide for your projects. Here is the ruler I created in Silhouette Studio:

(Email me or leave me a comment if you’d like a copy of the file – I’m happy to share.)

Then I did a bit of math. The finished size is about 40% of the original design. Conversely, your printed design needs to be about 2.5 times as large as your desired result.

I wanted my finished name tags to be 2.25” x 3.5”, so I first drew a rounded rectangle of that size in Silhouette Studio and then placed my graphics and text to my liking. Once I had the design I wanted, I scaled it by 250%.

From here, all I needed to do was print, cut, and bake!

The Shrink Plastic Sheets are printable only on an inkjet printer. Load the sheet into your printer so that the design prints on the side with the matte finish. Once it shrinks, the colors will intensify greatly so keep that in mind. I printed my design out using the “Fast Draft” setting on my printer, making sure to include the registration marks.

The process of cutting on the Silhouette is just like any other Print & Cut. To cut, I used the following settings:

Blade: 10
Speed: 5
Thickness: 33
Double-Cut: On
Line Segment Overcut: On (0.1mm)

I also set up a Custom Media setting so I wouldn’t  have to remember all those numbers in the future :).

Once you’ve cut your design, carefully remove it from the rest of the plastic sheet. You will probably have to coax it a little as it won’t weed like vinyl. I found that if I removed the sheet from the mat and then bent it slightly along the cut line, my design popped right out. Just remember that when you shrink the plastic, any flaws in the cut will be magnified, so if the edges aren’t to your liking, now is the time to fix them!

Preheat your oven to 325 degrees. Line a cookie sheet with either parchment paper, foil, or a Teflon sheet. I tried all three and prefer either the parchment paper or the Teflon sheet. When using foil, the backside of my design picked up every little fold in the sheet of aluminum. The Teflon sheet produced a similar effect, but because it resulted in a slightly textured pattern, I didn’t mind as much.

The plastic doesn’t take very long to shrink – anywhere from 1-3 minutes. In my experience, there was a lot of variation in the time each design took to shrink, depending on how long the oven had been preheated and how many times I opened the oven door to check on the progress. This is one time I really wished for a window on my oven door!

When baking, the design will curl up and then lay flat again. It’s pretty cool to watch! Once flat, bake for an additional 30 seconds. Remove the parchment/foil/Teflon from the cookie sheet and flatten the design with some type of implement until it cools. (My “implement of choice” was a glass casserole dish.)

With the addition of a metal pin back our name tags were complete. I think they turned out pretty darn cool, don’t you?

If you decide to try the Shrink Plastic Sheets or any of the other specialty media, come back and leave me a comment. I always love to see what others are creating with their Silhouette machines!

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    1. My pleasure! It’s a fun product to work with and I’m looking forward to coming up with some more projects – especially ones that kids will like 🙂 .

    1. You caught that 🙂 .

      Yes, as long as the printed part of the design isn’t in the crosshatch area, the cut can be pretty close to the registration marks.

      Thanks for taking the time to read and leave a comment!

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